"Being one with our moment-to-moment experience, as we are in the bottom-up practice of just sitting, gives us a taste of nonseparation that is more continuous with our daily lives. Being one with chopping vegetables may sound less glamorous than being one with the universe, but gradually we come to realize the whole universe is contained in that act of chopping."
"Our usual way of thinking is to think about something - we sit and think about something out there that our thoughts are describing or imagining. This kind of thinking is characterized by its descriptive content - what it's about. But what if instead of focusing on the content of thought, we see thought as an activity on its own right?
As something that we, or our body, does? Our foot itches, our knee hurts, our head thinks. It is just this perspective that labeling our thoughts come about. When we repeat the thought "thinking about 'the cat on the mat,'" our attention is no longer on the cat but on ourselves having a thought, engaging in the activity of thinking. Often in Zen literature we find the words not-doing used to refer to a not-separate mode of functioning. No thinker having a thought. Just the activity of thinking.
And what Dogen means here by "think not-thinking" is that not-separate activity of thinking - a thinking that is just the activity of thinking itself, as he says, beyond thinking about anything."
"According to the Buddha, all dharmas (things or moments of experience) are empty of any fixed or essential nature. This lack of any individual essential nature can also be seen as another consequence of oneness - all dharmas are aspects of a constantly changing, co-determined, interdependent whole. To speak of the self as empty is to remark on the transience of all experience, without positing any permanent experiencer or observer set up in the background who watches it all go by.
When emptiness is used to convey impermanence, there is no one psychological state that corresponds to the "feeling" of emptiness, any more than there is a state of experiencing pure being. If I say an apple is round and red, how many attributes am I listing? Does it possesses being as an attribute in the same way it possesses redness and roundness? Could it have just the roundness and redness but not the being?
To posit some intrinsic being or appleness alongside the apple's physical qualities of color, shape, and texture (and their constant, if ever so slight, physical changes) is to posit the sort of fixed, unchanging essence that the Buddha's teaching denies. Likewise, the emptiness of the self is not an additional attribute in any way on top of, behind, or between the gaps of moment-to-moment experience. It is not the silence between or behind our thoughts. It is just a way of saying that this moment-to-moment experience is all there is.
- "Ordinary Mind", Barry Magid